Brian Wampler of Wampler Pedals has been laying out world-class circuit boards officially since 2006. But, it was a passion for tone at a much younger age (and the allure of a Flying V) that started his interest in FX electronics, leading him to modify existing effects and chase new tones for new uses. Since its beginnings, Brian and his creations have inspired hundreds of professional artists with pedals such as the Euphoria Overdrive, the Leviathan Fuzz, SLO-stortion, Faux Spring Reverb and many more.
Starting and growing a small company in a field with so many other talented ‘competitors’ takes a sharp business acumen, attention to detail and a passion to create products with one goal in mind – to knock the socks of the customers. It’s easy to see that with Wampler’s huge following they’ve succeeded on all accounts.
Pedal Finder asked Brian a few questions about his passion for effects, how he and his crew spend their free time and what the future for Wampler Pedals holds. He was kind enough to reply.
1.) What was the first pedal Wampler produced and what was the goal?
The very first pedal that we ever produced was originally called the Pinnacle. However, those original “Pinnacle” pedals and the Pinnacle pedals of today are drastically different. The first “Pinnacle” had a circuit that more closely resembles the current Hotwired (Brent Mason’s signature pedal.) That first pedal had two independent pedals, or circuits, in one housing. One channel was more of a vintage sounding overdrive and the other channel had more of a light gain type of sound to it. I am not sure of the exact number of those units that we originally sold, but it was probably less than 50 or so.
As far as the goal, my original goal was just to build something for me to play at a gig one night. I was just messing around with different circuits on a breadboard and thought that those two circuits sounded good together. So I stuck them in a pedal and brought it to a gig. I never had any big intention to start a mass empire of pedal building or anything like that. It was purely a hobby at that time.
2.) Wampler has a signature series that includes Brad Paisley (Paisley Drive), Brent Mason (Hot Wired) and Tom Quayle (Dual Fusion). These are artists with diverse backgrounds. How do partnerships with artists come about at Wampler?
Our artists come to us in different ways. Sometimes an artist approaches me about a specific tone he’s chasing. Other times, we will approach specific artist that we are really enjoy and would like to work with – purely out of just being a huge fan of them. Some companies will seek out huge names, and pay those artists gigantic amounts of money in order to use their names in order to sell their product. I’m sure on some level that works. In my honest opinion it doesn’t work with the pedal companies of today, like it did 10 or 20 years ago. For me, it is much more advantageous to create a pedal that the artist loves and actually wants to use; rather then create some mediocre sounding pedal and slap the artist’s name on it.
3.) Let’s say I play rhythm guitar in a classic rock band, I’m new to Wampler and I only have room for three pedals on my board. Which three do you recommend and tell me a little about why.
That’s a tricky question to answer. It honestly depends a lot on personal preference, the existing gear you use, the type of sound and tones you are want to achieve. For example if a person were way more into fuzz than overdrive I would never recommend a lighter gain overdrive. However if a person is way more into light gain overdrives I would never recommend fuzz pedal – that probably isn’t something they would be looking for. If you’re asking about my personal preference, I tend to lean towards using a Plexi-drive, Paisley drive, Euphoria, and probably a distortion along with it. Such as: the Sovereign, Pinnacle, or maybe the SLO-stortion. It’s all depending on my mood and what type of tone I want to achieve for a particular band or show. It also depends on what the other guitar players are using – you want two guitar players’ sounds to compliment each other, but to each have their own voice and ‘hole’ they fill in the music.
4.) Are there any sports or organized activities that the folks at Wampler like to partake in when they’re not producing world class guitar effects?
We enjoy, football, beer drinking, basketball, Xbox or PlayStation, or operating heavy machinery and playing in the dirt (for example, I absolutely love tearing up things with a backhoe or tractor, especially if it’s been a hard day!) -sometimes a combination of all of those things. 😀
Also, all of us have kids and/or families so there are many times that we just enjoy spending time with our families whenever we can.
5.) Does Wampler have any camaraderie with other effects builders? Have there been times when you’ve heard a pedal and you thought, “This is amazing!”
All the time! There are many times I play other companies pedals on my own personal pedal board – I just like them. It’s the same thing with the rest of the guys that play guitar and work for our company. I would never insist that no other companies make great pedals. It’s just asinine and not a true statement to think that. I’m a huge fan of pedals and tones in general. You can constantly find me playing on many different types of guitars, effects, and amps at any of my gigs. I’m just a huge fan of gear I guess.
As far as other companies, most of us have really good relationships with each other. We are constantly talking and trying to help each other out because in the end – we are all blazing a new path and there’s no rulebook. The rules of business have changed from what they were 10 or 15 years ago and I think most of us that are running a growing business realize this. So we all tend to be pretty good friends and we all hang out whenever we are at NAMM or various shows through out the year.
6.) I know that Wampler Pedals is a fan of the D.I.Y. movement in the effects world. Any advice for individuals who like to tinker with pedals at home? Any online groups, books or other resources that might help folks get started and avoid common mistakes?
Some great pedal builder websites are: Diystompboxes.com, beavisaudio.com, geofex.com, and muzique.com. If you really want to dive into some more complicated/advanced stuff check out a book called The Art of Electronics.
7.) Is Wampler working on any new circuits/designs?
We are always working on new ideas and designing new circuits. We are coming out with a bass line here shortly and we’re always working on overdrives and distortions, different delays, and different types of effects – like the univibe type of effects, etc.
8.) If Wampler Pedals was a book, what book would it be?
I’m not sure. It probably would be a book about how to please your customers, or how to over-deliver; we are very humbled by our fans and customers – we wouldn’t be here without them!
9.) There are many pedal manufacturers out there today, what do you think has made Wampler so successful and separated them from the pack?
I think a big part of it having great people who work us, having great sounding pedals, and excellent customer service. Integrity is huge! If we say we are going to do something – we mean that. Many times this means it cost us more money, because we do things for our customers that many other companies wouldn’t dream of doing because it cost too much. For us it’s not about the money, it’s about the end result and the customer experience and we want to create a culture where our customers are our friends.
10.) What does the future hold for Wampler?
World dominance! No, I’m kidding… the reality is that beyond 6-8 months now I’m not sure, as the market is constantly changing and evolving. I’m sure we’ll be chasing tones in some fashion though 🙂
So, there you have it, a quick peek into the world of Wampler and their great designs. To learn more about their pedals, read reviews and find out who’s using, visit the Wampler Pedals manufacturer’s page at Pedal Finder. And, keep an eye on this blog for further updates and information.